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A Preliminary Epidemiologic Study of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder Relative to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disability Without Social Communication Deficits

Abstract

The goal of this preliminary investigation was to compare demographic and clinical characteristics in a sample of children with likely Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD) (N = 117) to those in children with possible (N = 118) and some (N = 126) SCD traits, other developmental delay (DD) (N = 91) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (N = 642). We used data from the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), a multi-site case–control study. Items reflecting SCD DSM-5 criteria were selected from an autism diagnostic measure, with SCD categories identified by creating quartiles. Our results suggest that SCD may fall along a continuum involving elevated deficits (in comparison to DD with no SCD) in social communication and restricted and repetitive behavior that do not reach the clinical threshold for ASD.

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Acknowledgments

The investigators acknowledge the contributions made to this study by project staff and enrolled families. We thank the SEED Data Coordinating Center team at the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute of Michigan State University for their support throughout this study. Data reported in this publication was supported by six cooperative agreements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD000180, Colorado Department of Public Health; Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD000181, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (CA); Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD000182, University of Pennsylvania; Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD000183, Johns Hopkins University; Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD000184, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD000498, Michigan State University. Susan Ellis Weismer was supported by Research Career Enhancement for Established Investigators Award Number K18DC017111 from the National Institutes of Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, National Institutes of Health. Eric Rubenstein was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health under Award Number T32HD007489. Maureen Durkin was supported by the CDC Cooperative Agreement Number U10DD001215. Durkin, Ellis Weismer, and Rubenstein receive support from NICHD U54HD090256 core grant to the Waisman Center. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC or NIH. Thanks to Sarah Furnier and Kathryn Prescott for assistance with data reliability.

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The study was conceptualized by SEW, with design assistance from all authors. Data extraction and analysis were completed by ER and SEW. The first draft of the manuscript was written by SEW and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Susan Ellis Weismer.

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Ellis Weismer, S., Rubenstein, E., Wiggins, L. et al. A Preliminary Epidemiologic Study of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder Relative to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disability Without Social Communication Deficits. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 2686–2696 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04737-4

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Keywords

  • Social communication disorder
  • Pragmatics
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Epidemiological study